Hauntingly sexy might sound like an oxy-moron, but that’s exactly the way we’d describe the band Magic Wands. The Los Angeles-based (at least, for now—they’re planning on moving to Nashville or New York soon) duo make the sort of music that you could dance to all night long—and then keep hearing in your dreams. Think shimmering guitar lines, taut drum beats, and echoing vocals, all liberally borrowed from dark ‘80s pop bands while still sounding wholly of the moment.
Although Magic Wands put out their first EP in 2008, it took four years to perfect Aloha Moon, their debut album finally hitting record store shelves on Tuesday. “At first we didn’t want to change anything and just re-do our demos and make it really simple,” explains Dexy Valentine, who along with Chris Valentine make up core of the band. “But at the same time, we had a producer and just saw where the songs could go and let it do its thing. It wasn’t planned out—it was at three in the morning!” These changes included adding a live bassist and drummer to tracks that once just included a drum machine, such as “Teenage Love,” one of many that revolve around matters of the heart.
“What’s better than love?” asks Dexy rhetorically, before adding, “There are a lot of bands out there screaming and raging and angry, and how does that actually help anybody when they listen to that music? We wanted to put a lot of love out into the world, because what you put out you get back.” She should know—before meeting Chris (via MySpace, it should be noted), she played in punk bands and remembers “being angry at the world, and your life starts to suck when you sing about that. I don’t want people leaving our shows and shooting drugs or robbing liquor stores.”
Instead, most people will just want to find someone to go home with. With songs about dreams, crystals, and black magic, there’s a sense of something dark—but not necessarily bad—underlying most tracks. Where’s it coming from? “I just try to live in a fantasy world over reality. There are so many different layers; what’s in front of you isn’t necessarily all that there is—a lot of the songs are about other dimensions and dreams,” explains Dexy. Just as with songs about love, she’s drawing inspiration from what passes in her everyday life—or something close to it. “In December I had an out-of-body experience. It was like a lucid dream, but way more intense. I saw myself sleeping in bed and flew out the window and saw all of the LA hills and the sunset…it was amazing. Our ‘Space’ video that we did was me trying to recreate a bit of that,” she recalls.
Regardless of where it’s coming from, Magic Wands’ music has caught the attention of more than just obsessive audiophiles; the single “Black Magic” played on The Vampire Diaries last month and will be featured on tonight’s episode of Gossip Girl. With their album finally coming out tomorrow, it seems that Magic Wands’ time in the shadows may finally be coming to an end. But even with success, Dexy promises that the duo has no plans to switch up their formula anytime soon. “We’re not going to completely change our sound and style like a lot of bands do—not a chance,” she insists, adding, “Chris and I have pretty much written the same way since we started playing music. I mean, maybe one day I’ll do some experimental record, but I wouldn’t expect anybody to listen to that!”